Disclaimer: Do it yourself carries with it with it inherent risks, this is especially true where electricity is involved. All DIY projects are purely at your own risk. As with any DIY project, unfamiliarity with the tools and processes can be dangerous. Information should be used as advice only.
That said, there are few things more satisfying than creating power with your own two hands. This is a guide to get you started on your DIY renewable journey, to give you the ability to build your own renewable technology.
Electrical safety – Electricity can be dangerous, we recommend reading the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) guidance here before dealing with electrical components.
Electricity is the presence and flow of electric charge. When we talk about circuits we are talking about the flow of electrons through conductors such as copper wires.
Ohms law is one of the main tenets of circuitry and states that:
Voltage (V) = Current (I) x Resistance (R)
Where voltage is the electromotive force or potential difference expressed in volts.
Current is the flow of electricity
Some of the basic components of solar PV circuits are:
Diode: A semiconductor device with two terminals, typically allowing the flow of current in one direction only
LED – Light emitting diode (small lamps)
A semiconductor: A substance that has a conductivity between that of an insulator and that of most metals (silicon is pictured).
Battery: A container consisting of one or more cells, in which chemical energy is converted into electricity and used as a source of power.
Solar cell: A device which converts solar radiation into electricity.
In order to communicate the setup of electrical circuits, standard symbols are used, the following are those commonly used in solar PV circuits:
A circuit is a complete and closed path around which a circulating electric current can flow. The most basic circuit uses a battery and an LED, a circuit diagram for this is shown below:
The components of the circuit are usually connected by wire, the connections need to be secure to insure the circuit works and to make the circuit safe.
Copper tape – Copper tape is the simplest way to connect components in a circuit, it can be purchased in most hardware stores or garden centres and comes in a roll of sticky back metal, simply sticking two components together with the sticky side forms a connection.
Soldering – Soldering takes a little more effort but creates firmer and more efficient connections, solder is also a lot less expensive than copper tape. To solder, heat the metal of the component to be connected with the tip of the soldering iron for a few seconds, then apply the solder at the connection to the other component, the solder will melt to the components joining them together.